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Advisory Council on the Environment

ILLEGAL DUMPING OF WASTES

(ACE Paper 34/98)
for advice

This paper outlines the current position on the problem of illegal dumping of wastes (commonly referred to as flytipping), the results of the stepped up enforcement and the way forward.

Existing Flytipping Control Practices and Clean Up Arrangements

Historically, the problem of illegal dumping has been regulated under a number of legislative provisions. These include the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisance By-laws (PCPN), the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (PHMS), the Lands (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) and the Summary Offences Ordinance (SOO).

To help cope with the likely increase in flytipping when landfill charging starts, s.16A of the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) was introduced in 1994 to provide EPD with the necessary enforcement powers against serious flytipping activities by drivers of vehicles.

Table 1 summarises the existing legislative provisions for control of flytipping. There are some constraints and difficulties in the enforcement work, especially the need to catch the offender in the act of flytipping. The low fines imposed by the magistrates (please refer to the statistics in Table 2) do not help either.

The responsibility for clean up of flytipped waste is divided among various authorities depending on the nature and location of the waste. In broad terms, RSD/USD are responsible for public areas, Highways Department (HyD) for public roads, Lands Department (LandsD) for government land on the basis of removal of illegal occupation, EPD for chemical wastes, and other works departments for works areas under their contracts. It should be noted that there is no effective legislative provision which empowers the government to carry out the clean up work and claim the costs against the owner, or to require the private owner to do it. S.20 of the PHMS may be used for this purpose but the penalty provisions are ineffective. The TPO may be used if change of land use is involved, however, lengthy and difficult litigation procedures will be involved. The relevant existing legislative provisions on cleaning up are summarised in Table 3.

USD/RSD maintain complaint hotlines and run a collection service for animal carcasses. As animal carcasses are a type of trade wastes, no direct pick up service from farms is provided. The public have made good use of the USD/RSD complaint hotlines in the past.

The problem of flytipping increased in 1997, with very large dump sites, like the one at Sheung Pak Nai, being found in the NWNT. As at beginning of April 1998, there were over 150 illegal dumping black spots containing more than 70,000 m3 of waste. The distribution of the black spots is shown in Table 4.

SPEL'S SPECIAL FORUM FOR FLYTIPPING

In view of the worsening situation, SPEL set up a special forum comprising the heads of the key departments (i.e. C of P, DEP, D of Lands, DAF, D of Plan, DS/WB and RSD). Two meetings have been held, on 10.3.98 and on 14.7.98. In the first meeting, the problems and constraints in enforcing the existing legislation were acknowledged and a number of short-term and long-term measures were identified. The former includes stepping up enforcement and expediting clean up of the illegal dump sites in the NWNT (to obtain experience for later application to the rest of the territory) as well as setting up a short term interdepartmental task force. The latter involves review of legislative provisions and the introduction of administrative measures to better control construction and demolition materials. In the second meeting, the progress made was reviewed and the way forward considered.

INTER-DEPARTMENTAL TASK FORCE

The Inter-departmental Task Force for Flytipping Control (hereafter referred to as the Task Force) held its first meeting on 17.4.98 with representatives from PELB, WB, LandsD, PlanD, RSD, HKPF, AFD and EPD. The terms of reference are in Annex II.

STEPPED-UP ENFORCEMENT

Shortly after the first meeting of SPEL's Special Forum, all concerned departments stepped up enforcement. The enforcement statistics for the three month period during 1.4.98 to 30.6.98 are summarised in Tables 5 and 6, from which it is obvious that the effort level is much higher than that in 1997.

Amongst the legislation which control illegal dumping activities, the WDO has the heaviest penalties. To achieve the best deterrent effect, the Task Force agreed that illegal dumping offences should be prosecuted under the WDO as far as possible or else under the PCPN. To facilitate staff training, a set of guidelines on how to collect evidence under the three pieces of legislation was drawn up.

The stepped-up enforcement has resulted in the following:

  1. Reduction in flytipping activities : At most (about 2/3rds) of the existing sites, flytipping activities have stopped as a result of the stepped up enforcement. Only some minor sites with small volumes of wastes were found. The distribution of the flytipping black spots as at 1.4.98 and 30.6.98 are shown in Table 4. Generally speaking, the stepped up enforcement has stopped large scale flytipping activities although the minor ones still continue to occur.
  2. Increased prosecutions : The number of prosecution cases in the three months (75) during April to June is more than three quarters of the 1997 total (91).

Clean Up of Illegal Dump Sites in NWNT

There are 47 sites in NWNT to be cleaned up. Very good progress has been made with 21 sites having been completed and a total of 2,000m3 of wastes and about 840 tyres removed. Another 8 sites containing about 550 m3 of wastes and 100 tyres are scheduled to be cleaned up by mid July.

A further 18 large and difficult sites have been assigned to EPD. For the Sheung Pak Nai site, RSD has issued advisory letters to the two private landowners involved to inform them of the government's plan to clean up the site. One of the landowners has responded positively, and a meeting was held between the government and him on 26.6.98 at which a tentative arrangement had been reached. RSD will proceed to serve a s.20 legal notice to the second landowner under PHMS requiring him to clean up his own land within one month.

EPD is undertaking the preparatory work for inviting tenders for the clean up of the 18 sites. The actual clean up work is expected to commence on site in October 98 and will be completed by April 99.

THE WAY FORWARD

 

  1. Enforcement

    The stepped up enforcement should continue. However, to do so on a long term basis with the existing staff resources, some adjustments to existing priorities will be necessary.
     
  2. Future central coordination for enforcement and clean up

    In view of the potential public health risks from illegal dump sites, it is imperative that clean up is completed as soon as possible. By assuming the central coordination role, the Task Force has successfully expedited the clean up of all the smaller sites and has secured a definite programme for the very large ones with engineering and technical difficulties. To ensure that more effective control is maintained after the disbandment of the Task Force, the Lands Department's Task Force (Black Spots), will assume a central, inter-departmental coordination role. It will aim to achieve effective and fast responses to problems of indiscriminate and unregulated dumping of wastes not just in the North West New Territories but throughout Hong Kong.
     
  3. Review of legislative and administrative measures

    PELB will co-ordinate a review on the relevant legislation to see whether amendments are required to make enforcement and clean up of illegal dump sites more efficient. Within 1998, WB will introduce administrative measures to improve control of construction waste, such as a trip ticket system for the disposal of construction and demolition materials.
     
  4. Collection of animal carcasses

    There are quite a number of black spots where animal carcasses have been frequently dumped. Once found or reported, USD/RSD can usually engage their term contractor or their dead animal removal gang to remove the carcasses within one day. RSD have been asked to consider direct collection of carcasses from farms.
     
  5. Flytipping spotter scheme

    Whilst more intensive enforcement may result in a better control of the large-scale dumping activities, it is unlikely that the many sporadic acts by drivers at the roadsides could be controlled very effectively by the government. The public should therefore be encouraged to come forward to assist in the enforcement by making use of USD/RSD's spotter scheme. The scheme should be extended to other legislation and an extensive and continuous publicity campaign will be organised.

     
  6. Operating hours of landfills and public filling areas

    There are three strategic landfills which accept construction and demolition wastes, namely WENT at Nim Wan, NENT at Ta Ku Ling and SENT at Tsung Kwan O. They are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. respectively. Additionally, there are currently two public filling areas (Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun) and one public fill barging point (Aldrich Bay) which accept public fill. By mid-August 1998, the Pak Shek Kok Stage II Reclamation Public Filling Area and the Shatin Public Fill Barging Point will be commissioned and by end-August 1998 the Aldrich Bay Public Fill Barging Point will be closed. These public filling areas and barging points are open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Construction and demolition waste (i.e. non-inert construction and demolition materials) are disposed of at landfills. Inert construction and demolition materials (i.e. public fill) are deposited at public filling areas and are accepted at public fill barging points. Consideration will be given to extending the operating hours to provide convenient outlets for contractors/drivers working late.
     
  7. Educating the public

    Consideration will be given to launching a publicity programme to educate the public on the importance of the proper disposal of wastes, the spotter scheme, the hotlines,etc.

Environmental Protection Department
July 1998

 

 
Annex I

Table 1: Existing Legislative Provisions for Flytipping Control

Authority Ordinance Provision Maximum Penalty Evidence Req'd
EPD Waste Disposal Ordinance S.16A for control of unlawful depositing of waste in public place, on government land, or on private land without the consent of land owner. $200,000 and 6 months imprisonment for 1st offence; $500,000 and 6 months imprisonment for 2nd or subsequent offence; and $10,000 per day for continuous offence. 1. Particulars of offender
2. Offence location
3. Land Owners' will
4. Other supporting evidence like vehicle registration number, photos, etc.
USD/RSD Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisance By-laws

S.4 for dumping of litter in public places

S.9A for littering from specified vehicles

Level 4 fine ($25,000) and 6 months imprisonment

Level 4 fine ($25,000) and 6 months imprisonment

1. Vehicle registration number or particulars of offender
2. Others are preferred but not mandatory (e.g. Completed spotter form)
Police Summary Offences Ordinance S.4 for nuisances and miscellaneous offences $500 and 3 months imprisonment 1. Vehicle registration number or particulars of offender
2. Others are preferred but not mandatory

Table 2: Statistics of Fines for Convictions under S16A of WDO

Range of Fines
(HK$)
Number of Convictions
1995 1996 1997 1998* Total
0-1,000
0
1
6
2
9
1,001-2,000
4
8
9
1
22
2,001-3,000
4
3
5
7
19
3,001-5,000
3
4
5
3
15
5,001-10,000
1
1
15
7
24
10,001-15,000
0
0
1
0
1
15,001-20,000
0
0
1
0
1
20,001-25,000
0
0
0
1
1
Total
12
17
42
21
92
Average Fine
3,292
2,971
5,676
6,000
4,939

* Up to 30.6.98

Table 3: Existing Legislative Provisions for Clean up of Illegal Dump Sites

Responsible Department
Ordinance
Remarks
LandsD Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance Government land: It provides for LandsD to remove waste found on government land.
USD/RSD Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances By-laws Public Areas: It provides for the Municipal Councils to remove street litter, household waste and excretal matter from public areas.
USD/RSD Public Health and Municipal
Services Ordinance
Private Land: S.20 of the Ordinance provides for the Municipal Councils to serve a notice to the waste owner, waste depositor, or occupier of any place to require him/her to clean up the place; and provides for the Authority to do the clean up if he/she fails to take action accordingly.
PlanD Town Planning Ordinance Private Land: It provides for PlanD to issue enforcement notices to the landowner to require him/her to stop the dumping activity if such activity constitutes an unauthorized development in terms of change of land use.
LandsD Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations The Regulations and their Schedules 1 and 2 provide for the fees for dumping licences.

Table 4: Distribution of Flytipping Black Spots by Size

Waste Quantity
 
Number of Sites
As at 1.4.98
As at 30.6.98
< 5 m3
54
43
5 - 50 m3
64
68
> 50 m3
36
35
Total
154
146

Table 5: Enforcement Statistics of RSD during 1.4.98 to 30.6.98

 
April
May
June
Total
1997 Total
No. of inspections
498
505
522
1525
5918
No. of ambushes
12
12
40
64
64
Staff-hour spent on ambush
150
158
176
484
1072
No. of surveillance visits
493
499
526
1518
5886
No. of prosecution cases
9
9
24
42
49
No. of referrals to other dept.
2
4
6
12
16

Table 6: Enforcement Statistics of EPD during 1.4.98 to 30.6.98

 
April
May
June
Total
1997 Total
No. of inspections
299
714
651
1664
1741
No. of ambushes
28
72
67
167
-
Staff-hour spent on ambush
516.5
1358
946.5
2821
-
No. of surveillance visits
203
423
560
1186
-
No. of prosecution cases
4
16
13
33
42

 

Annex II

Inter-departmental Task Force for Flytipping Control Terms of Reference

    1. To coordinate government resources and to delineate the duties of the concerned government departments to facilitate the clean up of illegally dumped materials in the NWNT;
       
    2. To coordinate the law enforcement actions of government departments to achieve a better effect in reducing illegal dumping activities;
       
    3. To identify and keep under review other short-term measures for a better control and prevention of illegal dumping activities; and
       
    4. To identify longer-term measures based on legislative measures and the experience of the Task Force.

 
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